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External Certification in Educational Leadership-Adm. Opt. School Principal

Develop your leadership skills to become a principal or a special leader to guide the future of education. This online program will prepare you to be a role model in school environments so that you can support students and educators.

This program is most often completed in conjunction with the master's degree or education specialist degree in educational leadership.

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At a Glance

Fall 2024

Application Due Date:
Start Date:

Credits and Tuition Cost (2023-2024)

Credits Required: 30
Cost Per Credit: $594.50


Fully Online

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External Certification in Educational Leadership-Adm. Opt. School Principal overview

Program format
Fully Online
Total credits
Total Credits

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What You'll Learn


Set organizational priorities and effectively communicate those priorities. Develop people to succeed in their positions and provide them with the support they need. Assess organizational performance and create the conditions for student, teacher, and school success.

Completion of this program will prepare you to exceed the current and emerging expectations for P12 school principals. Learning outcomes align with the Professional Standards for Educational Leaders (PSEL) and meet the requirements for Level I and Level II certification in Kentucky. 

Course Examples

  • EDL 706 Leadership for Learning-centered Schools I
  • EDL 709 Evidence-based Decision Making
  • EDL 707 Leadership for Learning-centered Schools II
  • EDL 646 Leadership for School-Family Community Engagement
  • EDL 627 School Finance and Support Services
  • EDL 708 Organizational Learning in P12 Schools

Connect with a Program Representative

Schedule time to meet with a program representative one-on-one.

How to Apply

Application Requirements

Standard graduate application requirements apply.

  • Copy of your valid K12 teacher certificate.
  • Resume: Limited to 2 pages, providing your name and contact information as well as postsecondary education (all degrees, years awarded, institution names, emphasis area), work experiences, education certifications, professional memberships. If you are seeking a P12 Administrator Certificate (principal or superintendent), be sure it’s clear within your resume that you have at least three years of full-time experience as a classroom teacher.
  • Personal Statement: Please write 2-3 double‐spaced pages, word‐processed in either Times New Roman 12‐point or Arial 10‐point, page numbers and your name in upper right corner. If you cite literature/resources to support your comments, adhere to the academic writing guidelines provided in 6th edition of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association.Part I: Provide background about your experiences as an educational leader and share how these experiences have prompted you to enroll in a graduate program in educational leadership studies. Share your career aspirations and explain how completing an EDL program will assist you in achieving your professional goals.

    Part II: Articulate your beliefs, perceptions, and reflections about each of the following four themes related to effective educational leadership: (a) a vision of success, (b) a focus on learning and teaching, (c) an engagement of all stakeholders, and (d) a demonstration of ethical practice.

  • Writing Sample: Prepare a Professional Reflection (2-3 double-spaced pages, word-processed in either Times New Roman 12-point or Ariel 10-point, page numbers and your name in upper right corner). Describe how your classroom evidences the components of highly effective teaching and learning (i.e., learning climate, classroom assessment and reflection, instructional rigor and student engagement, instructional relevance, knowledge of content). If you cite literature or resources to support your comments, then you must adhere to the academic writing guidelines provided in 6th edition of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association.
  • Provide following supporting documentation with your application:
    • Statement of your dispositions for educational leadership
    • Evidence of your improving student learning
    • Evidence of your advanced knowledge of curriculum, instruction and assessment
    • Evidence of your leadership at the building level within a school
  • Recommendations: Two recommendations from persons (e.g., principal, supervisor, superintendent or designee) who have direct knowledge of your skills/ability related to (a) leadership; (b) curriculum, instruction and assessment; and(c) improving student learning. One recommendation must be from your superintendent or their designee.

Admissions Criteria

Standard graduate admission requirements apply.

  • Qualify for or hold a Kentucky teaching certificate,
  • Have successfully completed at least three years full-time teaching in P12 setting
  • Have successfully completed a master’s degree in education with cumulative grade point average of at least 3.0 on a 4.0 scale
  • Be recommended by a superintendent or other district-level administrator who attests to applicant’s educational leadership and professionalism
  • Aspire to serve as a principal in a P12 school
  • Highly recommended, but not mandatory: Have completed a graduate-level basic statistics course with a grade of B higher

Program Contact

Lu S. Young
Program Director


Fall 2024

Application Due Date:
Start Date:

Distance Learning

Licensure & Authorization

Where you live matters when completing distance education activities. If you will live outside of Kentucky while completing your program, please check the Distance Learning Authorization & Licensure page to confirm that the program can be offered in your state or country, and if relevant, that it meets professional licensure requirements in your state. Please note: Admission and enrollment in a fully-online program can NOT lead to the issuance of a J-1 or F-1 student visa. 

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University of Kentucky has been approved to participate in State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements.

Student Support

Once you become a student, you will have access to a wide variety of academic support services to maximize your success. These services are available completely online to meet the needs of our online students.

Why UK Online

One tuition rate

Pay the same online tuition rate, no matter where you live.

Flexible schedule

Fit learning into your busy schedule with no prescribed class times.

Be Supported

Access supporting services and success coaches to help you succeed.


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